Launched in December to a very receptive audience, the Oil & Gas Academy has the ambitious task of delivering a skilled workforce for the UK oil & gas industry now and in the future.
Three months on and where have we got to? The relatively easy building blocks are now in place. We have stated our intention, mapped out how we are going to deliver, carried out a comprehensive recruitment campaign to appoint the necessary people and developed the plans for the physical improvements to the existing OPITO building which are needed to house the new people and facilities.
As we move into delivery mode, there will be some very real challenges – not least of which is engagement with the industry. You may think this is the easy bit, but believe me, this is the ultimate challenge.
Employers are at the centre of the academy and it will be our ability to facilitate the connection between employers and the organisations that can deliver skilled people, along with the raw potential talent, that will see the academy stand or fall.
The academy will provide, for the first time, a focal point where the whole industry can come together to identify workforce issues, set an agenda and agree what action should be taken.
Our work will be informed by industry expertise and will reflect employers’ issues and priorities. The academy will work on issues that affect the whole industry, promoting collective solutions while recognising the need to develop and implement sector, technical or functionally specific programmes.
For the academy to meet expectations, it must be able to bring together the industry’s requirements for people, skills and knowledge with individuals and organisations that can fulfil them.
I will forgive you for thinking that this sounds easy. It is not. Achieving frank and meaningful debate with the right people across the whole industry is going to be difficult, and it will be even harder if the industry does not engage wholeheartedly with the academy.
By taking a pan-industry approach, the aim is to have a sharper, clearer focus on delivering a much greater return on the time, money and effort the industry invests in learning and skills. Already we are working with the majority of the industry’s trade bodies and PILOT’s skills forum.
However, we need to engage with employers at different levels. We will need to hear from senior management about the business climate and the direction of your business.
We will need to find company enablers, those willing and able to act as a knowledgeable conduit between us and the academy. We are not simply looking for HR people.
The academy is not about recruitment. It is about identifying real, not perceived, needs and finding innovative ways of addressing those to the benefit of the whole industry.
We will also need to engage with technical and functional specialists. For example, we are currently working with the Offshore Survey and Positioning Group, made up of employers across the industry supply chain who have identified issues that affect them specifically, and facilitated by the academy, this group is developing collective solutions.
The academy is not seeking to create more talking shops or multi-layers of committee structures, but efficient and effective lines of communication that allow us to drill down into the issues in order to come up with solutions.
The huge prize is delivering an effective and safe workforce that will ensure long-term sustainable growth of our industry. Can we afford to lose out on the prize simply by not engaging effectively?
It is your academy. It will only be able to deliver what you need if you get involved, and the time to get involved starts now.
David Doig chief executive of the newly formed Opito Oil and Gas Academy